This Ain’t Art School Teaches Us a Thing or Two

It started as a whim, but it soon snowballed into a unique public project on photography: This Ain't Art School is an education for the Instagram generation. We find out more about the hugely popular account and its eye-catching content.

Claudia Holzinger, I’m sorry, I don’t pray that way, 2018

Who Is This Ain’t Art School?

Up and running since 2014 (in Instagram terms, that’s old school, even if it isn’t art school), This Ain’t Art School is the brainchild of Anika Meier, a writer and curator living in Germany. The account first emerged under the handle Juergen Teller Assignment. “That probably tells the story of why I started it,” Meier says. She started to complete assignments Teller gave his students (which had been published in an interview with the artist) and posted them on Instagram. Before she knew it, more than 2,000 people had joined in. “At some point I realized that the medium of Instagram is photography, but I had the feeling Instagram wasn’t that much about photography. I wanted to create a place where people could talk about photography without thinking about likes.” Since 2014, Meier still runs one assignment per month via the account, working with world-class photographers, that have included Martin Parr, Stephen Shore, Alec Soth and Joel Meyerowitz.

Julia Steinigeweg, Ein Werwirrendes Potenzial, 2015

Why Should You Follow?

Considered captions, tips on photography, personal stories (see the touching recent #TooTiredAssignment, on how photography has helped many people out of depression) and a wealth of photographers to discover: This Ain’t Art School is instagramming with a purpose. “It’s great to have this community of people who share their passion for photography every day,” Meier reflects. The account has a distinct, streamlined aesthetic: minimal compositions, with a predilection for pastel palettes, playfulness and a twist of the surreal. This isn’t art school, so it isn’t about a set of style rules, but there’s no doubt Meier and the team are deeply engaged with the medium and its messages.

Tekla Evelina Severin, Pink sink, 2018

What Instagram Doesn’t Tell You

This week, This Ain’t Art School featured a series by Matthew Morrocco, titled Complicit. In the series, Morrocco depicts himself in intimate, tender scenes with older men. He described the project as being “about showcasing the emotional lives of older men in the hopes of overhauling what it means to be male and be in touch with one’s emotions”. The post was deleted by Instagram. “Yes, there was a bit of nudity but think about all the accounts of hot young girls that aren’t a problem and don’t seem to need censorship.” Morrocco’s series was posted again, with some of the images removed, and with the warm support of the TAAS community.